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LA tops Power Rankings, even without ace

Cubs leap to No. 5, while top three remain unchanged
MLB.com @alysonfooter

There has not been a lot of movement in the past few weeks at the very top of the Power Rankings, and for good reason.

Not only do the Dodgers, Astros and Nationals have, in that order, the best records in baseball, but they also all have built leads in their respective divisions so enormous that nothing, barring an improbable disaster, could cause them to fall out of the top spot.

There has not been a lot of movement in the past few weeks at the very top of the Power Rankings, and for good reason.

Not only do the Dodgers, Astros and Nationals have, in that order, the best records in baseball, but they also all have built leads in their respective divisions so enormous that nothing, barring an improbable disaster, could cause them to fall out of the top spot.

Meanwhile, after a rough three-week stretch, the Yankees are inching back to respectability and are again in the Top 10. Also, keep an eye on the Royals, who are on a six-game winning streak and are within striking distance of the Indians and first place in the American League Central.

Biggest jump: That didn't take all that long, now did it, Cubs? The last time they appeared in the Top 5 was May 1, when we were still basing our rankings largely on expectations and past performance rather than what was happening in present times. Through the first half, the Cubs were at best mediocre; at worst, not very good. But they seem to have hit their stride. They've won eight of 10 and are just slightly behind the Brewers by a 1/2 game. Their streak bumped them from No. 10 to No. 5.

Biggest drop: The Cubs and Brewers flipped positions from last week, with Milwaukee dropping from No. 5 to No. 10. The Brewers came out of the break looking good, winning the first two games at home against the Phillies, but then they lost six in a row, including a four-game sweep in Pittsburgh. The Brewers lost seven of eight heading into Monday's off-day.

Power Rankings Top 5:

1. Dodgers (1 last week)

The Dodgers are bracing themselves for life without Clayton Kershaw for the next month or so, but the left-hander's absence isn't likely to change much in a division the Dodgers are running away with. They're simply too good for things to fall apart, even with the absence of arguably the best pitcher in baseball. Don't forget, the Dodgers started playing a little better last year when Kershaw went on the DL with back issues. Meanwhile, L.A. has plenty of mainstays who are carrying the team, including Cody Bellinger, who in nine games since the All-Star break (through Sunday) is slashing .333/.421/.606 with two homers and six RBIs.

2. Astros (2)

The Astros entered their game in Philadelphia Monday with a 4-4 mark over their past eight games, a bit of a slump by Houston standards. The absence of Carlos Correa, who is out until September after thumb surgery, may have a bit of an effect on the win-loss record, but it won't make even a dent in their lead in the AL West. There are too many other good players to pick up the slack, including Jose Altuve, who entered Monday with a 15-game hitting streak during which he's hitting a staggering .500 (34-for-68) with 16 RBIs.

3. Nationals (3)

As the Nats hold their breath waiting for more information on Stephen Strasburg's forearm, they can take some comfort in their 12-game lead in the NL East. This gives them time to get healthy for October. They're still plenty good -- three of the top 10 batting averages in the NL come from Nationals hitters: Daniel Murphy (second, .341); Bryce Harper (third, .336); and Ryan Zimmerman (eighth, .318).

4. Red Sox (4)

Like the three teams ahead of them, the Red Sox's position in the Power Rankings didn't change from last week. Boston keeps chugging through a mediocre month -- 10-10 in July, 5-6 in the past 11 games. One player who is anything but mediocre is Chris Sale, who leads the AL with 141 1/3 innings pitched, 200 strikeouts, a 2.48 ERA and a .195 opponents batting average.

5. Cubs (10)

Winners of eight of their first nine to begin the second half, the Cubs gained 5 1/2 games on the Brewers in just 10 days. The offense has sprung to life, totaling 19 homers and 56 runs scored over those nine games, entering play Monday. Impressive performers during that span include Willson Contreras, hitting .324 (11-for-34); Javier Baez, batting .407 (11-for-27) and Kris Bryant, batting .387 (12-for-31).

The rest of the Top 20:

6. Indians (7)

7. Rockies (8)

8. D-backs (6)

9. Yankees (11)

10. Brewers (5)

11. Royals (13)

12. Rays (9)

13. Pirates (18)

14. Twins (12)

15. Mariners (14)

16. Rangers (16)

17. Cardinals (15)

18. Braves (17)

19. Orioles (NR)

20. Angels (19)

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.